Miles of Pine to Plane

The panel raiser was the first plane of Chelor’s that I chose to copy, and it departs the least from the English tradition. Still, there are two differences worth noting. First, English panel raisers nearly always have adjustable, rather than fixed, depth stops and fences.  The early American planes, on the other hand, sacrifice adjustability in favor of simplicity and ease of use. Remember, we have miles of pine to plane!

A more subtle difference is the design of the escapement. Normally, the abutments – the surfaces that the wedge bears against – are a consistent width until the bottom half inch, where they taper into the side of the plane. But on the Chelor/Nicholson panel raisers, the left abutment is a triangle, tapering smoothly from top to bottom. As far as I know, no English plane has this feature, but its purpose will be clear to anyone who has used a skewed bench plane.  The skew forces the shavings to the left side of the plane, where they can easily become trapped under the abutment. The Chelor/Nicholson design fixes the problem. For me, as a professional planemaker, this was a revelation: I never knew you could change the shape of the abutment! This was the first of several “aha” moments I experienced during this process.

–Steve Voigt, excerpt from “The Legacy of Cesar Chelor,” in Issue Nine


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